Experts from the world of business and technology shared their tips for building a winning team in a dedicated masterclass at FUEL Liverpool this week.

The event, supported by Growth Platform and Clockwise, saw almost 100 people attend a public breakfast panel event before more than 20 scaleup and startup businesses gained direct access to experts in a series of behind-closed-doors masterclass pods focused on specific challenges they may face.

Simon Roberts, co-founder and CEO at Liverpool-headquartered Heatio, took part in the breakfast panel and was also an expert in the masterclasses.

“Commitment is key,” he said of his approach to building a winning team. “I would rather have a League Two player who will run through walls for you than a Premier League star who is happy to sit on the bench.

“The passion, commitment and drive of your team will get you through any startup business’s inevitable hard times.” 

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He added: “Sales is also key: I can’t stress enough how this seemingly dirty word is left out of so many startup businesses. 

“Sales get your business moving, it demonstrates traction and a salesperson or a sales-focused co-founder can be your golden ticket to achieving your dream.”

Claire Lewis, co-founder & CEO at Baltic Ventures, was on the breakfast panel.

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“The culture of an organisation is so important in building out a successful team. And in early stage companies this culture needs to come from the founder,” she advised. “Be mindful and intentional about the culture that you are building in your company. 

“Spend time considering the values that you are leading your team from and when hiring make sure you are recruiting people who will contribute to this culture.”

Kathryn Bell has helped Liverpool-based The Webinar Vet grow from three staff to nearly 30 since joining in 2012 and seen turnover grow from £250,000 to more than £2 million.

“I would say it’s so important to ensure alignment with your startup’s culture and values when building your dream team,” she said. “Look for people who not only have the right expertise to enable you to scale, but also share your passion and commitment to the journey ahead.”

Justine Jenkins is a positive action partnerships manager at the Race Equality Hub, a £2.3m initiative established by Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, to support career opportunities for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and the development of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic businesses.

Race Equality Hub

Jenkins (pictured above, second from right), an expert on the people masterclass pod, offered four pieces of advice.

“Diversity monitoring: do you carry out diversity monitoring? Do you understand the current diversity profile of your workforce?

“Lived experience: do you listen to the experiences of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic employees across your workforce? How? Do you have any examples of where lived experience has changed policy, process or how the organisation hires?

“Attraction: Do you take any deliberate steps to attract and recruit a diverse workforce? Do you use Positive Action (as outlined in the Equality Act 2010)? If not, why not?

“Valuing difference: is ‘difference’ recognised or celebrated in your organisation?  If so, how? Are diverse candidates / employees actively sought out, or valued specifically for their diverse backgrounds or identity?”

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Mark Sykes, a partner and head of entrepreneurial business at accountancy and business advice firm BDO, added: “Recruit people better than you.

“In a startup the founder role is to be all over every part of the business, but when scaling it is too vast and complex and therefore you need people who will do the things you can’t – and yes, better than you.

“True leadership involves creating the right environment for others to flourish, not control of others.”

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